A key aspect of President Donald Trump’s administration is restoring respect for the rule of law, and sometimes that means arresting and holding accountable lawbreaking individuals who are otherwise held in a rather high regard by the country.
One example of such was the recent arrest of several members of the U.S. Marine Corps based at Camp Pendleton in southern California on suspicion of a range of crimes, including the illicit smuggling of drugs and illegal aliens across the border from Mexico into the U.S.
Sending a message
The Marine Corps Times reported that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service made the arrests in a very visible manner during a battalion formation on Thursday morning, with the intent to send an unmistakable message to all other members of the battalion, division, and corps.
In addition to the 16 Marines arrested for human and drug smuggling crimes — who ranged in rank from private to corporal, all from the 1st Marine Division — another eight were detained and questioned as part of a separate investigation into illegal drug activity. An additional three service members were subsequently arrested in the sweep.
The Corps said in a press release, “1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter. Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”
It was further made clear that none of the Marines arrested had been involved in the ongoing operations at the border to provide support in the enforcement of immigration laws.
Lucrative smuggling operation
The arrests stemmed from an investigation that began in early July when two Marines from Camp Pendelton were caught in the act of smuggling three illegal aliens across the border.
According to the U.S. Naval Institute News, it was determined that those Marines had, on multiple occasions, been paid thousands of dollars to assist in the smuggling of illegal aliens across the southern border.
While the Marines themselves may have been tight-lipped about their illicit activities, interviews with the men they had helped smuggle into the country revealed the details of the operation.
Those two Marines pleaded not guilty during an arraignment and were released on a $10,000 bond.
Accountability above all
Americans by and large hold members of the U.S. military in high regard and generally presume them to be law-abiding and upright citizens, but as with people in any sector of the society, the allure of easy money can sometimes tempt otherwise forthright individuals into committing crimes.
Hopefully, the investigation and arrests at Camp Pendleton will serve to disrupt the human and drug smuggling operation in which a handful of Marines are alleged to have engaged, and those who were arrested will be held fully accountable if convicted.